Pineapple Banana Smoothie

Pineapple Banana Smoothie 1

Fruit smoothies are one of my favorite ways to start my day! Especially in the summer when the thermometer on our kitchen window outside reads 101F and it’s not even 10am–which happened to me this morning. Add in the humidity of  more than 50% and I seriously wonder how anyone lives here. But that’s getting off topic.

Pineapple Banana Smoothie 2

Today’s topic: this pineapple banana smoothie. This is a perfect smoothie to start (or end)(…or continue) the day with! And it only has four ingredients. Yeah, that’s right! All you need besides the obvious banana and pineapple are yogurt and a few ice cubes!Put all of the ingredients in a blender, blend for a minute or two, pour into two glasses, and enjoy!

Pineapple Banana Smoothie 3

I had to take a gulp sip before I was finished photographing! So good!


Pineapple Banana Smoothie

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 2 8oz glass servings

Pineapple Banana Smoothie

A refreshing and healthy smoothie to start (or end)(...or continue) the day with!


  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 4 ice cubes


  1. Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until fully incorporated. Pour into two glasses and enjoy!

Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan 8

Don’t you just love crusty breaded chicken encompassed in tomato sauce and topped with melted cheese? Yeah, me too. Which is why I like chicken parmesan so much. And the best part is, this chicken is baked, not fried! So you don’t have to feel guilty about making it: only a little bit of oil is used, just enough to grease the pan and keep the chicken from burning to ashes.

Ok, so maybe it wouldn’t burn to ashes in half an hour, but prevention is key.

Parmesan Chicken 1

I used my dad’s “recipe” for tomato sauce. I say “recipe” because his recipe isn’t written down; he basically told me “saute some onions, garlic, and any veggies we have; add in the tomatoes and cook”. So that’s what I did (but don’t worry, I’ll give you a more formal recipe than that)

To make the tomato sauce, cut up the veggies and then saute them for a few minutes on oil (any oil works)

Parmesan Chicken 2

After adding in the crushed and/or fresh tomatoes, the spices go in next. Nothing really exotic about them, except for the black pepper. It’s in that really cool grinder in the center. We got it from my grandparents’ in Serbia–that is, the grinder, not the pepper. I love using it, which is why many of the dinners I make are too peppery. But it makes me feel like I know what I’m doing. Even when I don’t have a clue–but, hey! I’ll add in some pepper to make people choke on the food so they can’t criticize it! Brilliant, I know.

With that said, cook the sauce for at least an hour (until the sauce has the consistency of spaghetti sauce)

Chicken Parmesan 3

Cut up the chicken into thin slices (I cut these pieces in half horizontally). You’ll need three bowls: one with flour, salt, and pepper; another with the breadcrumbs and spices; and a third with lightly beaten  eggs.

First dust the chicken with flour. Dip it in the eggs and then coat with the breadcrumbs. Place in a lightly greased pan. Repeat for all of the chicken slices.

Drizzle olive oil on top of the chicken and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.  And then turn around…

Chicken Parmesan 4

and see this mess and realize you only have 20 minutes to clean it up and sanitize it of salmonella. Work hard. I know you can do it!

Chicken Parmesan 7

After 20 minutes (and cleaning up), pour the tomato sauce over the chicken and top with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Place a sprig of rosemary on top if your heart (and tastebuds) so desire. Bake until the cheeses melt and become lightly brown (about 10 minutes).

(Oh, and that’s my eager-to-eat little brother in the kinda-blurred-upper-right-corner of the picture)

Enjoy with your favorite pasta or bread!


Chicken Parmesan

Prep Time: 50 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Yield: Serves 6 (with leftovers) or 12

Chicken Parmesan

Crusty breaded chicken encompassed in tomato sauce and topped with melted cheeses! And the best part is, this chicken is baked, not fried! So you don't have to feel guilty about making it: just enough oil is used to grease the pan and keep the chicken moist! Enjoy!


    For the Tomato Sauce
  • 2 medium-small onions (or 1 large onion), chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into quarter-moon slices
  • 1/2 a bell pepper (or a whole)
  • 1 celery stick
  • 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • 28 oz fresh tomatoes (peeled and sliced)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • a dash of turmeric
  • pinch of sugar
  • For the Chicken
  • *2 1/2 lb skinless,boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, washed
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • olive oil, for drizzling on chicken
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • mozzarella cheese, grated or thinly sliced
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • spaghetti or bread, for serving with


    To make the Tomato Sauce...
  1. saute the vegetables on the oil for a few minutes.
  2. Add the bay leaves and saute for 10 minutes on medium heat.
  3. Add in the tomatoes, salt, pepper, coriander, basil, oregano, turmeric, and sugar. Cook on medium-low heat until the sauce has the consistency of spaghetti sauce (1-3 hours)
  4. To prepare the Chicken...
  5. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  6. In a bowl combine the breadcrumbs, 1 sprig of rosemary (remove the leaves from the stem, discard stem, and mince the leaves), thyme, and parmesan cheese.
  7. In another bowl lightly beat the eggs.
  8. In a third bowl combine the flour, salt, and pepper.
  9. Toss the chicken in the flour mixture; then dip into the eggs. Next, coat with the breadcrumb mixture before placing in a lightly greased pan. Repeat for all of the chicken slices.
  10. Drizzle olive oil over the chicken; bake at 350F for 20 minutes.
  11. Put it all together!
  12. When the chicken is baked, take it out of the oven and adjust the oven temperature to 500F.
  13. Pour the tomato sauce evenly all over the chicken. Top with the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses and add the second sprig of rosemary on top (optional).
  14. Bake until the cheeses melt and are lightly browned (10-15 minutes). Serve with pasta or bread.


*You can easily half the chicken if you're not feeding a crowd; just adjust the amount of breadcrumbs, eggs, and flour accordingly.

Recipe for chicken adapted from No Recipes

Chocolate Tart

Chocolate Tart 12 Along with  eclairs I made this chocolate tart for my birthday two weeks ago! Rich, creamy and chocolaty, it was a great way to start the first day of my new year! Whether it’s for a birthday, a family-gathering, a rainy day, a holiday, a back-to-school treat, to satisfy a chocolate-craving, or to spice up a bland day, this tart will be a winner for everyone!

Chocolate Tart 2

These recipes are adapted from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking: Simple Techniques for Sophisticated Desserts. It has now become my favorite baking book. I love the way she presents recipes: a Master Recipe begins each chapter and that recipe is tweaked to create new recipes. So instead of memorizing 35,683,500,671 different recipes, learn the Master Recipe, understand the techniques behind it, and you’re ready to make chocolate souffles, chocolate sauces and chocolate fillings from the same Master Recipe with the same basic techniques!

Chocolate Tart 3 This crust recipe, like all of the recipes in the book, stems off of a Master Recipe for pie dough. In her book, Ms. Sherry describes in detail the differences between and processes behind flaky and mealy pie doughs. 

Chocolate Tart 4

The recipe makes enough dough for two 9-inch pie crusts. I only wanted to make one chocolate tart, so I used the extra dough to make tartlets (isn’t that a cute name?) which I filled with whipped cream and topped with fresh blueberries. You can use the extra pie dough for anything your heart desires (if your heart desires two chocolate tarts, double the ganache recipe).

Chocolate Tart 7

Before reading Sherry Yard’s book, ganache seemed like a mystical treat. But after reading through the Master Recipe (and memorizing it) I was stunned by its simplicity: boil heavy cream, add to cut up chocolate, tap bowl, let sit for a minute, gently stir, and BAM! That’s all! (I was also shocked to find out how easy it actually is to make souffles; that should be my next adventure in the kitchen!)

Chocolate Tart 11

After pouring the ganache into the crust, I topped it with whipped cream in the middle and refrigerated it before serving.

I must give one warning before giving you the recipe: the filling is very rich and creamy; better to slice it thinly and get two (or three–if no one’s watching) slices then to slice it thickly and have to throw away half-eaten slices.

Just sayin’

Chocolate Tart

Prep Time: 50 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: About 16 slices

Chocolate Tart


    Almond Crust
  • 6 oz. cold butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 egg
  • a pinch of salt
  • Ganache Filling
  • 9oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 cups heavy cream


    Almond Crust
  1. Sift together the flour, almond flour, and sugar.
  2. Add in the butter and combine until the dough resembles coarse walnut-sized pieces.
  3. Mix together the egg and salt. Add to the flour and butter mixture and mix until the dough just starts to come together.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. (The dough can stay in the fridge for up to 3 days)
  5. Preheat oven to 350F.
  6. Take the dough out of the fridge and on a lightly floured surface roll it out in a circle with a diameter an inch or two larger then the pan it will be baked in.
  7. Place the dough in a lightly greased baking pan. Using a fork poke a few holes in the bottom of the dough. Place parchment paper over the dough and fill the bottom with a faux filling. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325F and bake for another 10 minutes.
  8. Take out the faux filling and bake for another 10 minutes at 325F. Once the crust is golden brown, take it out of the oven and cool before using.
  9. Ganache Filling
  10. Cut up the chocolate into small pieces (about 1/4 inch). Place in a heat-proof bowl.
  11. Bring the heavy cream to a boil.
  12. Immediately pour the heavy cream over the chocolate and tap the bowl on the kitchen surface to settle the chocolate.Let sit for one minute.
  13. Gently stir the mixture with a spatula, careful not to add too much air to the mixture while stirring. Keep slowly stirring until the chocolate and heavy cream have been combined into a thick ganache.
  14. Pour the ganache into the cooled crust and refrigerate for at least ten minutes before decorating (optional).


Recipes adapted from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking Almond Pie Dough recipe and Master Ganache recipe

Disclosure: this post was not sponsored by Sherry Yard or affiliates; all opinions are my own

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole 6

I’ve been a very bad blogger; almost two weeks have gone by without a post. Shame. But today I have a recipe that will make up for those two weeks. It’s tasty, quick,and easy to make! It is…


In casserole form!

Don’t they look tasty?

Oh, and on a side note: yes, those are keys in the background of the above picture. Don’t ask.

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

Ever since my sister made chicken enchiladas I’ve had a soft spot for these tasty filled rolls. What was stopping me from making them, though, was how time-consuming they are to make. I figured if I could only skip the fill-each-and-every enchilada step, I could make them more often.

And then one day I was browsing pinterest and I came upon this recipe (see, pinterest isn’t always a waste of time!) I glanced through the recipe and my hopes were confirmed: this recipe skipped the fill-each-and-every enchilada step! It wouldn’t take all afternoon to make them!

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole 2

And another bonus: this casserole has plenty of cheese. Can you ever have too much cheese? I don’t think so. That’s why you can add as much as you want to–if you have the patience to grate it

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole 4

Combine all of the ingredients (but only half the cheeses) in a large bowl.

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole 5

Then pour it all into a prepared baking dish and top with the rest of the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, top with sour cream, and enjoy!

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole 7

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 6

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

This is for all of my fellow enchilada-lovers who just don't have the time to make classic enchiladas but still want the delicious dish for dinner!


  • 1 cup Harvest Grains Blend from Trader Joes or quinoa
  • 1 10-oz can mild enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup canned or frozen corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1 tomato, washed and diced


  1. Cook the harvest blends or quinoa according to the package instructions. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly oil a 9x13 baking dish.
  3. Combine the grains, enchilada sauce, corn, black beans, cilantro, cumin, and chili powder. Sesaon with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in half of the cheeses.
  4. Spread the mixture into the baking dish. Top with the remaining cheeses.
  5. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  6. Afterwards,broil on high to brown the cheeses on top (if desired).
  7. Serve with the avocado and tomato.


Recipe adapted from Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

Vegetable Tagine

Vegetable Tagine 6 This vegetable tagine is the perfect summer dish! It’s loaded with fresh veggies (tomatoes, carrots,and onions, to name a few), spices like paprika and chili powder, and is topped with cilantro!

Vegetable Tagine 3 I’ve been using a lot more cilantro these days. It has a distinct smell and taste, which makes this dish all the more unique! Although parsley can be substituted for it, I recommend buying it instead because its flavor cannot be substituted for–trust me

Vegetable Tagine 2

These are the spices you’ll need: chili powder, ground cumin, and paprika. In the recipe I’ve stated the amounts I used, but you can definitely adjust the amount to taste

This dish is definitely on my summer-meal list! Not only is it easy to prepare, it’s also tasty and a fresh reminder of the goodness of summer foods!

Vegetable Tagine

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

Vegetable Tagine


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, halved and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • a few slices fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 4 small potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper
  • whole wheat couscous, to serve with


  1. Heat the oil in a pan; add the onions and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, ginger, chili powder, ground cumin, and paprika. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring.
  2. Toss in the potatoes and carrots. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes (until the potatoes and carrots are tender but firm).
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add in the cilantro and cook for a minute.
  5. Preheat oven to 350F.
  6. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish. Arrange the sliced tomatoes on top and dot with the butter.
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes are browned on top.
  8. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with couscous.


Recipe adapted from Vegetable Tagine in the Cooking School Mediterranean cookbook

Dark Chocolate Coconut Brownies

Dark Chocolate Coconut Brownies 7 Brownies are a classic dessert; who doesn’t like them? Whether they’re fudgey, loaded with peanut butter or nuts, have a crackled top, or topped with frosting, it’s hard to go wrong with brownies. And this recipe isn’t about to break that trend!

Dark Chocolate Coconut Brownies 2 This brownie batter is super thick (the above picture was taken before the dry ingredients were added, just so you know), but don’t worry–it’s all part of the delicious-brownie-making-process. Trust me.

Oh, and that random green leaf in the background is from our aloe vera plant

Why is it there? I would love to know that answer, too

Dark Chocolate Coconut Brownies 5 And remember–these are dark chocolate brownies, which is why I don’t add a lot of sugar.

Because that would defeat the dark chocolate purpose

And then these wouldn’t be dark chocolate brownies

And then life as we know it would end

Ok, so maybe that last statement was a little too extreme, but you get the point.

Dark Chocolate Coconut Brownies 6 And now, without further ado here is this delicious brownie recipe!

Dark Chocolate Coconut Brownies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: Makes 18 brownies

Dark Chocolate Coconut Brownies


  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter,melted
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • chocolate chips (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Stir the cocoa into the melted butter; then blend in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
  4. Blend in the dry ingredients, coconut, and chocolate chips.
  5. In a greased baking pan (9x11inch)evenly spread the batter. Top with more coconut and chocolate chips if desired.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes.


Recipe adapted from HERSHEY'S Best Brownies Recipe


Chicken Stir-fry

Chicken Stir-fry 8 A few years ago my mom bought me a Chinese cookbook for Christmas and since then I’ve made many of the recipes in it. Among some of my favorite recipes are the stir-fry ones. And now I have come to a new level in my stir-fry-cooking life: no recipe, just me and my taste buds (it may sound a little risky at first, but trust me: this is delicious!)

Chicken Stir-fry 3 First I cut up my favorite veggies for stir-fry: a bell pepper, two carrots, and an onion.

Chicken Stir-fry 1 Then I opened up a can of water chestnuts. These are a must in an stir-fry! They add a nice crunch and a faint sweet taste to the dish.

Chicken Stir-fry 5 And now for the chicken: many recipes marinate the chicken in, mainly, soy sauce. That’s what I did until I tried it in teriyaki sauce–and I am not going back to the soy-sauce-marinating days.

Chicken Stir-fry 6 When all of the ingredients have been stir-fried for a few minutes, I added this stir-fry sauce. I’m starting wonder how anyone can stir-fry anything without teriyaki sauce and this stir-fry sauce!

Chicken Stir-fry 7 I made white rice with this stir-fry. First soak the rice in water for an hour or two (changing the water every 30 minutes or so). Then boil the water and cook he rice uncovered for about 10 minutes. Drain, rinse, and transfer to a serving dish.

Chicken Stir-fry 4 I topped it all off with sesame seeds (and then thought I should take an insanely close-up picture of it all)

Chicken Stir-fry

Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

Chicken Stir-fry


  • 1lb skinless,boneless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 tbsp sesame seed oil (or another oil)
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 carrots, cut into strips
  • 1 onion, cut into strips
  • 1 5oz can water chestnuts, diced
  • 2-3 tbsp Teriyaki sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp Island Soyaki sauce
  • 3-4 tbsp stir-fry sauce
  • cooked white rice
  • sesame seeds (optional)


  1. Marinate the chicken in the teriyaki and soyaki sauces for at least an hour.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan. Add in the chicken and stir-fry until the chicken is browned.
  3. Next, add in the bell pepper, carrots, onion, and water chestnuts. Stir-fry for a few minutes.
  4. Add in the stir-fry sauce and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
  5. Serve with cooked white rice and sesame seeds (optional).

Peach Hand-Pies

Peach Hand-Pies 8 There’s something very appealing about a personal pie. Is it because you get to eat it all by yourself, without the nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe, you should share it? But, your greed counters, it’s a personal pie. Yes, that adjective does seem to change things up: it’s not just any pie, it’s your pie. And it is oh-so-easy to make. Don’t believe me? Lemme show you…

Peach Hand-Pies 2 Combine cut peaches with some honey, flour, salt, and cinnamon.

Peach Hand-Pies 3 Then make your dough: kneed together flour, butter, and water. Rip off Take a medium-small-sized ball of dough and roll it out into a circle…

Peach Hand-Pies 4 …place one to two tablespoons of the peach mixture in the center of the dough.

Peach Hand-Pies 5 Then fold it taco-style and seal the edges using a fork.

Peach Hand-Pies 6 Place in a prepared baking pan and chill for at least 15 minutes.

Peach Hand-Pies 7 Once chilled, brush a lightly-beaten egg on top, sprinkle a little bit of sugar, and poke a few holes in each pie.

Peach Hand-Pies 9 Bake at 375F until golden-brown (about 20 minutes). And then enjoy your personal pie!


Peach Hand-Pies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 16 pies

Peach Hand-Pies


    For Peach Filling:
  • 2-3 cups cut-up peaches
  • 1-2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • For Dough:
  • 1 lb (450g) flour
  • 6 oz. butter
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp honey (optional)
  • beaten egg
  • sugar


    For the Filling:
  1. Mix together the peaches, honey, flour, lemon juice, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. For the Dough:
  3. Kneed together the flour and butter until the dough resembles large breadcrumbs. Add in the water and kneed until the dough forms a ball.
  4. Assembly:
  5. Roll out a medium-small-sized piece of dough into a circle. Place one to two tablespoons of the filling in the center of the circle.
  6. Fold taco-style and seal the edges using a fork.
  7. Place in a prepared baking pan and chill for at least 15 minutes.
  8. Afterwards, brush the lightly-beaten egg on top of the pies, sprinkle a little bit of sugar on each, and poke a few holes in each of them.
  9. Bake at 375F until golden-brown, about 20 minutes. Enjoy!


Filling recipe adapted from Bakerella

Fourth of July Cheesecake

Fourth of July Cheesecake 10 Tomorrow is the Fourth of July! Can you believe it? The year is flying by! Before you know it, it’ll be Thanksgiving —and then Christmas!

But let’s get back to the present. More specifically, this cheesecake. A creamy cheesecake sitting on top of a graham-cracker crust topped with blueberries, raspberries, and whipped cream. Oh yeah.

Fourth of July Cheesecake 8 Now I have to admit I had a little mishap with the graham-cracker crust: I went to the store this morning intending to buy the ingredients I needed for the cheesecake. Graham crackers were on the list–until I read the ingredient list on the box. My conscious reminded me of the articles I had read about the ingredients that are legal in the USA but banned in many other countries and the other ingredients found in inorganic foods. I had read those articles the day before, and I couldn’t make myself buy the crackers. So my creative-healthy spirit rose up and I decided to make the graham cracker crumbs–how hard could it be?

Fourth of July Cheesecake 1

The above picture shows how hard it can be. I googled “how to make graham crackers”, looked at a few ingredient lists, and decided I knew enough and I could now make them.

As I mixed the dough I started to realize something was wrong. I seriously considered just throwing away the dough and starting over, but I didn’t want to waste it. Swallowing my fears I dumped the dough in a greased baking pan, pathetically spread it out, and baked it.

Fourth of July Cheesecake 2 After 15 or so minutes I took it out and my heart sank to my stomach. It looked…well, you can see in the pictures how it looked. My hopes and dreams of becoming a cook like Ree Drummond were dashed.

Unsure how it would turn out, I savagely cut the stuff with a knife, dumped it in the blender, turned it on, and hoped it would turn out alright. To my relief it looked kinda like the graham-cracker crumbs I was used to. Feeling daring, I decided I would go through with it and give these crumbs a chance.

Fourth of July Cheesecake 3 I mixed them with some melted butter, pressed them onto the bottom of a pan, and baked them for 10 minutes. The crust seemed fairly normal–the only way to find out was to finish the cheesecake and eat it. It passed the “looks” test and the “taste” test (you may be wondering how I managed to try it when I made it for the Fourth of July and am zealously guarding it from family members and their forks; answer: some crumbs stick to the pan; those are the ones that make it to my taste buds)

Fourth of July Cheesecake 4 Moving on from the crust.The cheesecake itself is very easy to make: mix up the ingredients and bake. Bam. So I won’t spend much (or any) time on that part.

Before decorating the cheesecake with blueberries and fruits, I made a thin glaze from milk and powdered sugar and brushed it on the cake. I did this to help keep the fruits from rolling off the cake.

Fourth of July Cheesecake 6 To decorate the cheesecake like the American Flag, line up your blueberries (not necessarily 50) on the upper-left fourth of the cheesecake.

Fourth of July Cheesecake 7 Then line up your raspberries to make the stripes, leaving space in between each row for the whipped cream.

Fourth of July Cheesecake 9 Pipe the whipped cream between the raspberries

Fourth of July Cheesecake 12 I used a 1M tip to pipe the whipped cream into close-together dots. A straight line of whipped cream would work as well.

Fourth of July Cheesecake 11 Chill for at least an hour before serving up this masterpiece!

Oh, and just so you know, the fingers in the above picture are from my little brother as he was counting how many blueberries there were, which ended up being only 32–not 50, but that’s ok :)

Fourth of July Cheesecake

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Yield: 16 slices

Fourth of July Cheesecake


    For graham-cracker crust:
  • 1-3 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3-4 tbsp butter, melted
  • For cheesecake:
  • 2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon's juice and peel
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • For the glaze:
  • 3 tbsp powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • For the topping:
  • blueberries
  • raspberries
  • whipped cream


    To make the graham cracker crust:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F.
  2. Mix together the crumbs and butter. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of a lightly greased baking pan (9-inch diameter).
  3. Bake for 10 minutes; then remove from the oven and set aside.
  4. To make the cheesecake:
  5. Adjust the oven temperature to 350F.
  6. In a large bowl beat together the sugar, cream cheese, lemon juice and peel with an electric mixer on medium speed.
  7. Add in the sour cream and mix well. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition.
  8. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake until the center is almost set (about 50 minutes.)
  9. Cool completely.
  10. To make the glaze:
  11. Mix together the powdered sugar and milk until smooth.
  12. Assembly:
  13. Once the cheesecake is completely cooled, transfer it to a serving dish.
  14. Brush the glaze on top and sides of the cheesecake.
  15. On the upper-left fourth of the cheesecake arrange the blueberries to make the stars of the American flag.
  16. Line up the raspberries to make the stripes, leaving space in between each row to pipe the whipped cream. Chill for at least 10 minutes.
  17. Pipe the whipped cream in between the raspberries and chill for at least an hour before serving.


Cheesecake recipe adapted from Strawberry Cheesecake Recipe




Coconut-Lovers Cake

Because my mom is a strong coconut lover, I wanted to make her a coconut cake for her birthday. I knew I wanted each bite to be a taste-bud-explosion of coconut. I searched online for a recipe and finally found one for the cake. I decided to go on a whim and not use a recipe for the filling–which turned out to be a delicious decision. For the topping I whipped up heavy cream and added shredded coconut to it.

Coconut Cake 1

The recipe for the cake called for coconut milk. Now, my mom and I may be coconut lovers, but I have to admit coconut milk is not a regular item in our fridge. Not wanting to substitute it, I looked up a recipe on how to make it. Surprisingly, not only is it easy to make, you don’t use milk to make it: the only ingredients are water and shredded coconut. Strange that coconut milk can be made without milk, hu? But don’t worry, it tastes delicious!

Coconut Cake 3

To make the cake, combine the coconut milk, buttermilk, and vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract) in a small bowl. Set aside.

Coconut Cake 13

Using a mixer, beat the butter until creamy; add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Next add in the eggs, mixing well after each addition.

Coconut Cake 4

Add in the flour mixture (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) alternatively with the milk mixture. Coconut Cake 5

Pour the batter into a prepared baking pan (9-inch diameter)

Coconut Cake 6

Bake until golden brown (about 40 minutes)…

Coconut Cake 7 …and when completely cooled split horizontally in half.

Coconut Cake 8 Then plop the vanilla-pudding-mixed-with-coconut on one of the layers…

Coconut Cake 9

…and evenly spread it all over the layer. Top with the second cake layer, put it in the fridge, and ignore it for the moment.

Coconut Cake 10

Combine the whipped cream (I used heavy  whipping cream but any whipped cream will work) and shredded coconut . Then take your cake out of the fridge, apologize to it for ignoring it…

Coconut Cake 11 …and with about a third of the whipped cream give the cake a crumb coat (a thin layer of frosting).

Coconut Cake 12

After refrigerating the cake for a while, frost it with the rest of the whipped cream.  Refrigerate it for at least an hour before serving.

Coconut Cake

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Yield: 16 slices

Coconut Cake


    For the Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted flour (sift 3-4 times)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk *_see note below_
  • 1 bag of vanilla sugar (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 6 tbsp butter,softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • For the Filling:
  • 2-3 cups vanilla pudding
  • 1-3 cups shredded coconut
  • For the Topping:
  • 2-3 cups whipped cream
  • 1-3 cups shredded coconut


    For the cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a round cake pan (9-by-2 inches)
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk, coconut milk, and vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract).
  3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer at medium speed, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, beating well after each addition.
  4. At low speed beat in the dry ingredients in 3 batches; between each batch add half of the buttermilk mixture.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the surface. Bake until the cake is golden (about 40 minutes). Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring to a plate or cooling rack to cool completely. Once cool, cut the cake horizontally into two layers.
  6. For the filling:
  7. Prepare the vanilla pudding according to the manufacturer's instructions, leaving out about 1/4 cup of the liquid needed. Once the pudding is cooled, mix in the shredded coconut.
  8. For the topping:
  9. Combine the shredded coconut with the whipped cream and refrigerate until use.
  10. Assembly:
  11. Place one of the cake layers (cut-side up) on the serving dish. Spread with the filling and place the other cake layer (cut-side up) on top. Refrigerate for at least ten minutes. Then, using about a third of the topping, frost the top and sides of the cake for a crumb coat. Refrigerate again for at least 20 minutes to allow the crumb coat to set. Afterwards frost with the rest of the topping and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.


Recipe for cake adapted from Food&Wine

*I used the recipe for the coconut milk linked to above; however, I did not strain the mixture like the recipe called for. If you prefer not to have shredded coconut in the cake, then strain the mixture like the recipe calls for